YONKERS, NY -- On Wednesday, May 15th STEER held its 5th annual Graduation Banquet. The evening brought together student-athletes, families, community partners, and STEER advisors from three different school districts. Within Port Chester, Yonkers, and the Bronx, STEER serves five schools: Port Chester Middle School, Port Chester High School, Palisade Preparatory School, Careers in Sports High School and Wings Academy.
The evening began with introductions of the 16 student athletes onboarded in New York this spring. From Port Chester seven new student-athletes were presented: Sebastian Alvarez, Rabel Badia, Kelly Barrera, Brayan Coyt, Nicholas Dorazio, Steven Hightower, and Camila Napoli. From Palisade Preparatory six new student-athletes were presented: Daniela Blum, Raheim Bryant, Rayshawn Bryant, Jalen Higgins, Jadin Pereyra, and Daniela Santana. From Careers in Sports three new student-athletes were presented: Yeneli Payano, Elizabeth Martinez, and Jeral Mendoza.
Following these introductions, Dr. Hector Morales-Negron, Director of Peak Mental Game recognized student athletes that have completed the online course by presenting them with certificates and medals.
The night went on to honor two members of the STEER community that have made significant contributions towards supporting the student-athletes this previous year. The Humanitarian Award was presented to Kelly LeGaye, a founding member of STEER’s Advisory Council for Empowering Girls. Throughout the past year, Mrs. LeGaye has helped develop the council’s programming efforts including coordinating an interviewing workshop in partnership with Goldman Sachs. This year’s Byron Womack Award for Excellence was awarded to Coach Sean Stahn, Palisade Preparatory’s STEER Captain. Coach Stahn has consistently gone above and beyond to support his student-athletes as well as his fellow STEER advisors at Palisade Preparatory. Coach Stahn was also recognized earlier in the evening for completing each course level of the Peak Mental Game program, taking the courses alongside the student-athletes.
At the center of the night’s highlights was STEER’s Class of 2019. This year’s class of twenty-three seniors is the largest to date for the organization. In addition, this is also the first class to include graduates from all four high schools STEER operates in: Port Chester, Palisade Preparatory, Careers in Sports, and Wings Acaedmy. The seniors were honored in traditional STEER fashion by receiving their alumni jackets.
Closing out the evening was the inaugural awarding of Byron Womack scholarships through the Byron Womack Scholarship Fund. The Byron Womack Scholarship Fund was established in honor of the legacy and life work of STEER’s late executive director, Byron Womack. The fund will serve to further support our student-athletes by providing scholarships towards their higher education pursuits and expanding programming opportunities for them during their time enrolled in the program. Six scholarships were presented to members of STEER’s graduating class. Denika Foster, an incoming student at SUNY Cortland, was awarded the Byron Womack Community Service Scholarship. Ayenaliz Velasquez, an incoming student at Ithaca College, was awarded the Byron Womack Academic Scholarship. Tyla Dupree (College of St. Rose) and Adrian Rosario Beato (Ithaca College) were both awarded the Byron Womack Leadership Scholarship. Lizandro Espinosa (Monroe College) and Luis Martinez (SUNY Mohawk Valley) were both awarded the Byron Womack Advocate Award.
Congratulations to STEER’s Class of 2019!
The New York State Council on Women and Girls will be honoring female high school athletes from across the State who are planning to participate in athletics while in college. The event, part of Governor Cuomo’s Celebration of Women in NYS, will take place when the WNBA’s New York Liberty take on the Connecticut Sun at the Times Union Center in Albany on May 19, 2019 at 2:00pm.
Student honorees will have the opportunity to participate in a reception with players and women leaders from across the State and a half-time on-court ceremony. In addition, honorees’ names, their high school, the sport they will be playing, and the college they will attending will appear on the continuous ticker in the arena throughout the game.
STEER student athlete Ayenaliz Velasquez is an honor student and a two-sport varsity athlete at Port Chester High School. She was an outstanding player on the Soccer Team and two-year co-captain of the Track and Field Team. She achieved a new personal record in her main event, the long jump, in May 2019. At 5’2” she jumped 17’2”. Not only does she plan to continue her success athletically at Ithaca College next Fall but she is excited to continue her academic studies as an Athletic Training Major. Ayenaliz is passionate about helping others and giving back to her community! She also has embraced her musical talent throughout her high school career. She plays the trumpet and is Drum Major of the Port Chester High School Marching Band. She is also a leader of the STEER for Student Athletes Program.
Congratulations Ayenaliz “Nani” Velasquez, for all your accomplishments! You have made
STEER proud in your time in the program.
On Saturday, May 11th, 2019, STEER hosted its first College Fair in partnership with the Carver Center’s teen program in Port Chester, NY. In the past, STEER has facilitated events centered around the college process but this was this was the
organization’s first time sponsoring an event of the sort. “Accessibility, in terms of location and subject matter, for our student-athletes is something we always keep in mind when developing programming,” says Susana Garcia, Assistant Student Support Administrator at STEER. ‘It’s really exciting to bring a college networking opportunity directly into one of the communities we serve.”
The college fair encouraged the STEER student-athletes to connect with representatives from schools in the tri-state area including: Monroe College, Keane University, The University of New Haven, LaGuardia Community College, Westchester Community College and SUNY Purchase. In addition to speaking with admissions representatives, local college undergraduates were present at the event to speak about their experiences as current students. Among the college volunteers present was STEER graduate, Karmen Pantoja, a current sophomore at Chapman University in California. Karmen spoke about her experiences transitioning to college life, her recent return from a semester abroad in Rome, and her current search for a summer internship in the political science field.
After our student-athletes spent time speaking to representatives and volunteers Purchase College Athletic Director, Chris Bisignano and his team of college coaches, spoke about the college admissions process, and how to avoid pitfalls when navigating the recruiting and admissions process. Bisignano and his coaches placed emphasis on the importance of academic excellence and character when it comes to recruiting. Following the Purchase team, current soccer players at Westchester Community College answered questions for our student-athletes, including what a college training schedule looks like, how they manage academic and sports, and what extracurriculars they are involved in after college.
On Saturday, February 9th, STEER for Student Athletes hosted a Social Media Awareness Workshop at Palisade Preparatory School. This program-wide workshop brought together STEER student-athletes from five schools and five different grade levels to learn about social media competencies that will help them to better present themselves skills as student-athletes.
The workshop began with a group activity that allowed the student-athletes to reflect on their current social media habits. Some of the topics discussed among the groups included favorite social media platforms, why and how much time they spend online, and the positive and negative effects of social media.
Following this activity, Billy McBride, Assistant Athletic Director and Diversity Inclusion Director at Amherst College, spoke to the student-athletes about his sports career and the role that social media plays today in the college recruiting process. McBride emphasized the importance of being a “wholistic” student-athlete and urged the students to think about their interests and career goals outside of their sport. Angel Leon, a sophomore baseball player at Careers in Sports High School said, “A best practice I learned from Billy McBride is to think before I post. As he stated, once you post something online it is there forever. If I post without thinking it might seriously harm me in the long run.”
The second featured speaker was Eduardo Gonzalez, CEO and founder of the social media brand Classysavant LLC. Gonzalez spoke about his experiences growing up in Port Chester, and how he became a social media entrepreneur based on his hobbies and interests. Throughout his presentation, Gonzalez repeatedly asked the student-athletes, “Who is on your team?” Gonzalez emphasized the importance of networking and building support networks around you, assuring our student-athletes that asking for help is okay and can create countless opportunities.
The workshop ended with lunch and allowed the student-athletes to approach both McBride and Gonzalez to connect and ask questions about their personal goals. Carolina Juarez, a freshman swimmer at Palisade Preparatory High, says “I now know that social media acts like another resume so I should be proud of everything I post.” The STEER student-athletes left the workshop feeling prepared and motivated to showcase their best selves online.
STEER for Student Athletes’ Advisory Council For Empowering Girls held its second event at Hour to Exit Escape Games in New Rochelle, NY. The Advisory Council provides STEER with advice and perspectives on the unique issues related to empowering girls through sports engagement. This workshop focused on developing teamwork skills and best practices that the student-athletes can directly apply to their respective sports and academic settings.
This team building event brought together STEER female student-athletes across grades 8-12 from four different schools. The STEER student-athletes were divided into two groups and given an hour to solve their escape room. Both groups were paired with a volunteer from the Purchase College softball team who was in charge of facilitating the escape room experience by suggesting teamwork strategies to the girls. Shawna Smith, a sophomore on the Purchase softball team, told the STEER student-athletes, “Teamwork is not being better than your teammates, it’s making each other better.”
After the hour in the escape room, the student-athletes regrouped to reflect on their experience. The student-athletes discussed the positive contributions each member made to the team, the areas in which the team can improve in the future, and lastly, what they learned about teamwork. A resonating takeaway for the STEER student-athletes was understanding the value of different perspectives when it comes to reaching the same goal, in this case solving the escape room. Denika Foster, a Careers in Sports High School senior says, “Everyone has their own specialty and everyone can make a contribution to the team.” The event ended with lunch and gave the STEER student-athletes the opportunity to chat with the Purchase College volunteers about various aspect of college life. The volunteers answered a variety of questions including how to navigate the college application and recruitment process, time management strategies, and their daily experiences on a college sports team.
In order to ensure the continued success of STEER, the organization depends heavily on its community to stay active and involved in the development of our youth. In specific, corporations, individual donors, and motivated empowered volunteers and individuals within our community are essential to the enrichment of our programming and the lives of our student-athletes. Together we can make impactful change one student-athlete at a time. If you are interested in being a vehicle of change, please contact April Uhl, Student Support Administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about volunteer and donation opportunities.